Fibromyalgia – Amanda’s story

amanda-lobban-smallHi, my name is Amanda. I have severe fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and arthritis which I've suffered from age 18 (I am now 48). It took twenty-two years to diagnose my conditions.

I was in my home almost ALL the time for four years due to pain, fatigue and depression, prior to becoming a member at the MS therapy centre. I have lost friends and struggled to maintain relationships because of fibromyalgia, which has finally been recognised as an actual, physical condition. I believe I need to help myself as much as I can, and so, I have tried everything and anything I have heard about to try and improve my life quality. Everything I have ever tried has made little to no difference and somehow the Fibro overrode my attempts and regained control.

I first heard about hyperbaric oxygen therapy in 2009 and decided to wait for the results of a study completed in Televiv re the effectiveness of HBOT as a treatment option in Fibro **. The results seemed hopeful, to me, and so we sought out the therapy centre in December 2015, soon after the study was made public. It is considered that there are no negative side effects of HBOT, and so, I felt there was absolutely no harm in trying "just one more time," to help myself.

I began my continuous sessions in January 2016. It can seem like a pretty daunting proposition in the beginning but I can't stress enough just how important it is to see this initial period through, even when you feel defeated or too exhausted- as I did several times, but, with the staff support I stayed the course and I now attend twice a week following the advice of Joanne Goodwin, the centre manager. She is so reassuring and knowledgeable, so passionate about the effectiveness of HBOT and enthusiastic about raising awareness of this treatment, which can help a myriad of conditions.

She is a visionary and her dedication to helping people to help themselves is an absolute gift to all of the members. Actually everyone who works at the centre, most on a voluntary basis, are brilliant. The Centre is a welcoming and inclusive social meeting place, there is no embarrassment or judgement as we are all there for our own reasons, we try to help each other too which can only add to the benefit of the actual therapy.

I was very sceptical, whilst secretly hopeful I might notice even, a slight improvement but nothing prepared me for just how positively different I feel! So much so that I have now purchased my own mask because I know that this therapy will be a part of my life, for the rest of my life!

I always say "I just don't feel well!" Which can be a part of Fibro and CFS, but, I can never quite put my finger on why I feel unwell. This symptom has been helped quite a bit and some parts of some days I actually feel OK.

I have suffered terribly with CFS for the whole of my adult life - this was the very first symptom that showed itself in my long journey with Fibro. I soon noticed a difference to this part of my condition. Sometimes I get periods of time where I have to slow myself down now and remind myself this isn't a cure but it IS a real, legitimate treatment, so long as you keep attending the sessions on a regular basis. The feeling of happiness in "just getting a break" from the pain and fatigue sometimes is worth more than anyone could imagine. We are told that pacing yourself is essential in Fibro and CFS but undertaking therapy, I have found, means relearning your condition all over again, but for very positive reasons. Learning about new boundaries and what you are now capable of doing can be exciting, for yourself and for the people you care about.
I suffer pain throughout my body most of the time, despite a regime of strong pain killers. For quite a while I didn't think the therapy was helping it, but, when I suffered from a flare up (which increases the severity of ALL my fibro symptoms) I was prompted to actually think about the pain, something I try to avoid, and I realised that I DO, in fact, have a reduction in pain levels during some parts of each day. I have found I am taking a little less pain medication as well.

The time I notice just how much my symptoms are helped is when I have a break from therapy for a holiday etc. The full blown symptoms quickly return and I can hardly wait to attend the centre. It can take three or four sessions following a break to return to my "new normal!"

This therapy gives me periods of time where the pain and fatigue is not my main focus or stops me in my tracks. I can make future plans ahead of time, I arrange to see friends and then actually see them and not cancel because I'm unwell!
I have made some of those friends at the centre, I have regained some confidence and it has given me an opportunity to find my place in society, once again. Just knowing I have a little bit of control back is a huge benefit to me!
HBOT is a priceless gift with untold positive effects in my long term future.
Upon reflection It has actually given me far more than just an effective treatment.
If anybody is thinking of trying HBOT I would really recommend it because it could open up a whole new world of possibility!!

** Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Diminish Fibromyalgia Syndrome – Prospective Clinical Trial